Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Mystery : a neglected aspect of first-millennium western liturgy
Author: Gordon-Taylor, Benjamin Nicholas
ISNI:       0000 0001 3506 6622
Awarding Body: Durham University
Current Institution: Durham University
Date of Award: 2008
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
The thesis aims to show that the Western tradition has its own vibrant, rich, profoundly significant and enduringly relevant concept ofmystery which can best be seen to be present in the evolution of its liturgy and in associated intellectual culture in the first millennium CEo The significance of mysterium in western liturgical texts and theological writing of the second half of this period has been particularly neglected in liturgical and wider scholarship, and in the tendency to assume that the Christian East has the stronger theology of mystery, but it needs to be noticed and acknowledged for its intrinsic value and ifmodem issues in liturgical change and reconstruction are to be properly understood. In this recovery and its interpretation lies the overall originality of the thesis. Part I discusses modern approaches to mystery in the context of liturgy, highlighting and challenging some assumptions and misURderstandings that have arisen in, for example, the translation of liturgical texts. The value of the classic approaches of Baumstark and Casel is acknowledged; that of Casel is argued to be an insufficient response in itself to the importance of liturgical mystery. Three modern writers are deployed to show that mystery has a significance across disciplinary boundaries. There follow discussions of mystery as religious language, in relation to knowledge, revelation and visual art, drawing critically on and originally juxtaposing a diverse range of theological scholarship and literary geme in order to point to a common theme of what is here termed the 'moreness' of God, and the ultimate inability of language to fully describe or make known the initiative and activity of God, and to propose that, paradoxically, mystery is a necessary form of language used to indicate these very limitations. Liturgy is the supreme locus of mystery in these terms. Part II' embeds this argument first in a critical re-evaluation of the origins and background of mystery in its Greek (mysterion) and Latin (mysterium) forms and of scholarly opinion on these in late antique religious and early Christian contexts, including a fresh assessment of the notion that mystery language tended to be avoided in a sacramental context until about the fourth century CE because of its perceived associations with pagan mystery cults. The relationship between mysterium and sacramentum is then discussed and evaluated in the light of existing scholarship and new research which concentrates especially on those instances where the terms appear in the same sentence, in order to dispel the common and hitherto insufficiently challenged assumption that they . are synonymous. Their interplay shows mysterium itself to be a critically important and polyvalent term in emerging sacramental and liturgical discourse. The relatively few instances of mystery as a term in surviving early liturgical forms of eastern and western provenance are evaluated, and the original argument made that the wider use ofmystery language in the Latin tradition from the fourth century needs to be seen alongside the transition of liturgical formulae from the largely improvised to the fixed written text:. mysterium is the link, since it represents in textual terms the divine initiative assumed by the practice of improvisation. The continuing importance, richness and theological significance of the term is shown by a detailed analysis of its use in selected examples of the texts which emerged from this process. It is further shown to be a significant notion in an example of an intellectual context in which texts of this type were used, the Carolingian era and in its theological writers including the liturgist Alcuin and the allegorist Amalarius, in the Expositio Antiquae Liturgiae Gallicanae, in the debate surrounding Adoptionism, and in the so-called, but here argued to be misinterpreted, eucharistic 'controversy' between Ratrarnnus and Paschasius Radbertus. Carolingian responses to visual art lead to the original proposal that in this period text effectively functions much as art does in expressing 'moreness'. This has implications for liturgical text in the modern era and suggests a more creative approach to issues surrounding liturgical change. Mystery is the necessary language which lies at the centre of this approach.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available